Doctor of Philosophy

Qualifying Exam

The qualifying exam (QE) represents a shared responsibility between professors and their students. Professors are responsible for informing advisees about the format and general content of the QE. Students are responsible for being prepared to successfully complete the examination as well as for meeting administrative requirements and deadlines.

The QE is a summative evaluation. It represents a final performance where students demonstrate a level of scholastic mastery of the field of inquiry.

The Early Childhood Program requires all doctoral students to complete a Summative Test in fulfillment of the qualifying exam. The Summative Test is 12 hours in length, administered over a 3-day period in 4 hour segments, and integrates the work in the student’s specialization area, the cognate area, and research methods.

Timeline for Completion

Doctoral students may pursue both full-time and part-time study. The degree must be completed within eight years of admission into the program.


Upon successful completion of coursework and the qualifying exam, the student files the appropriate paperwork with the Dean’s office requesting admission into candidacy. Once the candidacy is approved, the student becomes a doctoral candidate (rather than a doctoral student), and the student is ABD (All But Dissertation).